Guide to Punta Cana, the island that has it all

The location, white sandy beaches, and the friendliness of its inhabitants make Punta Cana an unmissable destination.

Guide to Punta Cana, the island that has it all
Punta Cana, the island that has it all. Photo: Hilton Hotels

Two and a half hours away on a direct flight from Bogotá is Punta Cana, "a destination that has it all," as a billboard at the international airport in that Dominican Republic city says. The slogan is part of the strategy of the Ministry of Tourism of that country, a portfolio that manages the engine of its economy. In fact, in 2018 alone, eight million tourists visited this destination.

On this trip, we will meet two luxury properties of Playa Hotels & Resorts. They are Hilton La Romana and Sanctuary Cap Cana, hotel complexes with unique designs and peculiar nuances in architecture, décor, and landscape. Each one has its own charm and provides, in its own way, the rest and comfort that guests seek in Caribbean environments - the average temperature is 27 degrees Celsius.

All-inclusive with Hilton quality

The Hilton La Romana Hotel is located 45 minutes from the Punta Cana airport, in the town of Bayahibe. It is a resort with a private beach that shares two environments: one exclusive for adults and another area called family, which is currently being remodeled. In December of this year, when both spaces are available, the hotel will have 768 rooms available.

"The concept of an 'adult only' hotel has been strong for more than a decade; now it's fashionable even in destinations not only in the Caribbean but also in inland cities. It's the best thing for people looking for complete tranquility and even uninhibited," says Wally Dagri, director of Public Relations Mexico and Latam at Playa Hotels & Resorts.

The hotel offers 24-hour room service and minibar; five top-notch restaurants for every palate. The best of Asian gastronomy is in Sakura; Mahogany, continental food; Mare Grill & Restaurant; Noor offers Mediterranean dishes, and Chinola, the kitchen of the house. Mofongo, a typical dish based on mashed green banana and pork, is recommended.

Lovers of good liquor can also enjoy cocktails in the five bars. It is worth mentioning that there is a premium registry for exclusive access to certain areas, such as the Swim-Up Pool Bar, which has an infinity style and has nice 'Bali' beds.

"The destination is very favorable for athletes; just 30 minutes from the hotel is the prestigious Teeth of the Dog golf course. Also, thanks to the fact that the hotel's beach does not have sargasso (algae that accumulate on the seashore), it is possible to do paddle surfing, canoeing, snorkeling, and diving, among other sports," says Paola Montas, e-Concierge of the hotel. Another of the activities that guests like best is the Acuagym, an aerobics session they do at sea.

An ocean swimming pool

Visitors are assured rest and fun at the hotel. But if you want to live an unforgettable experience, you must do the tour to Saona Island. Just 50 meters from the Hilton La Romana beach, the company ScubaCaribe offers a catamaran excursion that will take you to the paradisiacal place in about an hour.

The island is part of the Cotubanamá National Park, which in turn belongs to a 110 km2 nature reserve. The beauty of the site is its crystalline waters and the coconut palms that complete the landscape. Before arriving on land, still very far out to sea, the catamaran makes a stop to enjoy a natural swimming pool of approximately one meter deep. Majestic.

A colonial style in the Caribbean

15 minutes from Punta Cana airport is the most exclusive area of this tourist site: Cap Cana. On eight hectares of tropical beauty, a castle looks like a fairy tale: the Sanctuary Cap Cana.

This imposing resort has three lodging styles: the villas, the colonial, and the castle. Depending on the category, there are rooms with their own swimming pool, including a suite with a small private island. Although the designs are very different, the peacefulness of the place is constant in the three rooms.

Among the therapeutic amenities is the Zen Garden, a reflexology path, pools with hydromassage and 14 treatment rooms.

Sanctuary, which is also exclusively for adults, reopened its doors last April after an investment of 45 million dollars. The transformation of the site included the construction of two new towers and 140 suites, increasing its accommodation capacity to a total of 323 rooms. A particularity of the place is that it can have its hotel occupancy at one hundred percent and does not feel crowded. In fact, the hotel looks like a Spanish village, with classical architecture: spacious, with squares, gardens, and water fountains.

A golf cart transports the visiting press team from the colonial area to the resort's spa and fitness center. The experience is unique, it is the Eden for the body that suffers stress or pain. "Among the therapeutic amenities is the Zen Garden, a reflexology path, pools with hydromassage, and 14 treatment rooms," says Angie Diaz, director of sales at Sanctuary.

Like the Hilton, diners can choose from five restaurants: the Blue Marlin is the most Caribbean, colorful and in a palafito over the sea offers the best in seafood. Another restaurant with a lot of personality is Il Capriccio, elegant with its white booths, crystal chandeliers, and gigantic floral arrangements.

The culmination of the visit

"Please refrain from visiting the beach and walking through the open spaces of the hotel in the face of imminent danger of storm...", indicating a notification in each room of the Sanctuary.

That afternoon, as the sea was raging and gathering strength, what would eventually be Hurricane Dorian, tranquility was found in the room's jacuzzi next to a Mamajuana (a Dominican drink based on rum, wine, honey, tree bark, and spices).

In the end, the weather reports showed that the storm took another distant course to the Dominican Republic, and thus the last program of the itinerary could be fulfilled. Coco Bongo was invited to a show night in the emblematic discotheque. An unparalleled party, the best of the night in one place.

Source: El Tiempo